One lone cat and a bevy of dogs attended the annual Blessing of the Animals service Saturday at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Colonial Beach. Father Nick Szobota led the event in which animals are brought to the church grounds and individually blessed.
In honor of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, the event is held close to his feast day, October 4, every year. St. Mary’s holds their service in the garden area of the church grounds which is anchored by a sculpture of Saint Francis making it all the more meaningful.
With dogs from the tiny dachshund to Friendly the greyhound to collies and mutts in-between the garden was filled with sniffing pups and their loving owners.
Father Szobota offered prayer over the animals and owners as a group before going to each individual and blessing them. Episcopalians believe that animals are all part of God’s creation and that humans are meant to be good stewards of them.
In the past the church has spoken out against factory farms, puppy mills and other animal atrocities.
Father Szobota is a fairly recent addition to St. Mary’s and the town of Colonial Beach but is a presence at many local events. His smiling face is often seen on town hill, throughout the town, and last year he acted in a play with the Colonial Beach Playhouse. Many would say that he truly embodies the call from Jesus to love one another.
St. Mary’s is a small, but thriving church in Colonial Beach. Their active ministry includes monthly community lunches on the first Saturday, a food pantry, their thrift store, and working with the nursing home.
Father Nick Szobota prays during the Blessing of the Animals.